Mental Health & Wellness Presentations for Staff and Parents

Fear and silence still pervade our society and school community. Not only are students afraid to share their struggles, but teachers and parents are also afraid to speak up and seek much needed support for themselves or their loved ones. I saw this and felt it as a sufferer in 1998 when I first began teaching. After much healing and determination, I see it now more than ever in the people around me. Change is imperative. We need to be able to speak up and share our stories. With the right measures in play, healing does happen. I lived it, I proved it, I now share my story. No one should ever have to live a lie as I did, yet so many do. My story of hope and healing is one that resonates with staff, parents, and students of all ages. No one should ever feel that they are alone. We are not alone. We are there, only an arm-length from the ones who love and care for us. I reached and I healed from severe illness. I now make a difference in the lives of my family, my friends, and my colleagues. I am a survivor. I can now give hope to others.

My name is Chris Nihmey. I am a mental illness advocate, illness survivor, motivational speaker, teacher, and author of five books including my memoir Two Sides To The Story: Living A Lie (Chipmunka Publishing, UK, 2013), my battle with mental illness, which has sold approximately 4000 copies. Since its release in 2013, I have had the wonderful opportunity of speaking to students, staff, and parents throughout Ottawa and beyond about my story of hope, resilience, purpose, and healing. Healing DOES happen. We can speak time and time again about mental health, wellness, and stigma, but when a survivor shares their own life experiences, and their road to healing, the impact is profound. Attitudes and views change forever, as does compassion and acceptance for sufferers and their loved ones.

I lived a lie, hiding my illnesses for over a decade to avoid discrimination and prejudice. No one should have to do this. We all have a story to share. I now share mine. We are not alone.

“I am not the illness. I have an illness. SEE THE PERSON, not the illness.” -Chris Nihmey

 

chris nihmey speaking at carleton university

Preparatory and Follow-Up Activities

This DOCUMENT outlines activities that members of your school community/organization/institution can implement prior to, and following my talk, to ensure that my message is well-received, understood, and reinforced. I will provide staff with a 6 page document which includes mental health links, resources, effective tips & ideas, and several ways that teachers/parents can educate their students and children at home to create awareness, understanding, and compassion for those who struggle. Included are steps that teachers/parents can take to receive direction and treatment for their own ailments. Each listener will receive a bookmark that links to my website. On my website are many mental health links and resources, including a contact page where I can be reached following my talk. Help is always available, prior to, and following my talk. Never hesitate to reach out. Early intervention is the key.  

Here is a QUESTIONNAIRE that can be distributed following my visit. It is a chance for students to reflect on my messages. Answers can be written by students OR discussed as a class. Questions can be used for any follow-up activities, or discussion prior to my visit. Classroom activities tied to mental health and wellness are always encouraged to continue the conversation. You can always review my "goals" on this page.

Time for Presentation: Approximately 1 hour (+/- 5 min.) 

Presentation Fee: $500 for one presentation, $600 for two talks, $700 for three talks.

Travelling to your city: I would love to visit. There will be reasonable travelling expenses needed for trips that require 2 or more hours of driving.

If you are interested in a visit, please click on the "Reserve Your Presentation Now" button. This will take you to my “Contact Chris” page. Thank you.

Creating Mental Health Awareness At Home & In The Workplace

Since 2013, I have hosted over 150 presentations at schools and organizations/institutions about my battle with mental illness and finding hope, purpose, resilience, and healing in my life. My feedback has been superlative. I continue to speak during the 2018-2019 school year. I would love to come out to your organization or institution to present.

My goals:

  • Educating & understanding mental illness, both child & parent
  • Speak up early to get help & listening to one another at work
  • Being vulnerable so that other staff step forward & speak up
  • What signs and symptoms should we look out for? Where do we find help?
  • Talking effectively about mental illness & suicide with our children
  • “Hey, Are You Okay?” A motto for life. Reaching out to our colleagues
  • The utmost importance of loving support – empathy, acceptance, and compassion
  • Providing accessible resources in our workplace
  • The dangers of stigma and the fight to eliminate bullying in schools and the workplace
  • Inspiring hope, purpose, resilience, and healing (Healing DOES happen!)
  • Never give up, always look up - every step counts

We are all responsible for those in our workplace, especially for those suffering from sickness, bullying, abuse or neglect, lacking the support that many of us have. This leads to suffering and in some instances, suicide. Taking your life is never a choice, but a decision impacted by circumstances within and around us. Reaching out to someone is a choice. We must destroy the fear and shame that accompanies sickness. Until our loved ones and workmates feel they can safely step forward and share their stories without judgement and prejudice, they will choose to hide and ultimately lose hope. They must know, deep down, that they are not alone. Every life matters. Hope and healing is a gift we all deserve.

If you are interested in a visit, please click on the "Reserve Your Presentation Now" button. This will take you to my “Contact Chris” page. Thank you.

Testimonials

"We are indebted to you Chris Nihmey for your ongoing contributions on our OCSB Mental Health journey. Sincere gratitude for your leadership in OCSB and beyond."
 
Denise Andre, OCSB Director, 2018
 
 

"Chris recently came to Longue Sault PS to speak to my staff about his journey. He hit it out of the ballpark ... wow!  My staff were blown away by his story and message which contained useful, research based information which can be used to support all public education stakeholders. I highly recommend Chris Nihmey as a professional speaker for any organization interested in increasing their capacity to properly support mental health in their workplace.

Kieran Kennedy, Principal, Upper Canada District School Board

 

"As part of a Parents Reaching Out Grant, I wanted to engage families in dialogue, awareness building, and learning about mental health and well-being. We were so fortunate to find Chris Nihmey! Chris presented to a group of parents, guardians and caregivers, alongside their children from Grades 4 - 6, at our Open House. His message of hope, compassion, and resilience was powerful and very well-received. Adults and students came away with a deeper understanding of stigma, how hurts don't go away, and how to show empathy and support others in positive, encouraging ways. I highly recommend Chris to your school community!"

 Cynthia Seguin, Principal, UCDSB